Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

RSNSW Liversidge Lecture 2020

Professor Richard Payne“Drug Discovery Inspired by Natural Products ”

Professor Richard J Payne FRSN FRSC FRACI
Professor of Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology, The University of Sydney


Date: Wednesday, 4 May 2022, Time 6.00–8.00 pm AEST. Doors open at 5.45 pm. Drinks and canapés follow the lecture.
Venue:  Charles Perkins Centre Auditorium (D17), University of Sydney. 
Entry: No charge
Registration: Registration is essential at https://www.sydney.edu.au/science/news-and-events/events/liversidge-lecture.html
All are welcome

The Liversidge Lecture: The Royal Society of NSW and the University of Sydney are pleased to present the Society’s biennial Liversidge Lecture which is awarded for the purpose of encouragement of research in Chemistry.  It was established under the terms of a bequest to the Society by Professor Archibald Liversidge MA LLD FRS, who was Professor of Chemistry in the University of Sydney from 1874 to 1907 and was one of the Council members who sponsored the Society's Act of Incorporation in 1881. The Liversidge Lecture for 2020 was awarded to Professor Richard Payne if the University of Sydney.

Summary: Natural products have provided inspiration for the development of drugs to treat human disease since the dawn of medicine. These structurally complex molecules are typically secondary metabolites produced by bacteria, algae, corals, sponges, plants and lower animals and are not required for growth and reproduction, but instead target key biological processes in competing organisms, thus providing an evolutionary advantage for the producer.

Over the past decade, enormous advances in analytical chemistry, genomics and proteomics have underpinned the rapid discovery of new classes of natural products that serve as excellent starting points for drug discovery programs. This talk will outline strategies that we have used to capitalize on the privileged chemical structures and bioactivity of natural products for the discovery of new drug leads for a range of human diseases. Examples will include the use of venoms from the funnel-web spider for stroke therapy, salivary proteins from blood-feeding ticks, flies and mosquitoes as inspiration for clot-busting drugs, and the modification of molecules produced by soil-dwelling bacteria as novel antibiotics. The final part of the lecture will highlight the use of mRNA display technologies to discover natural product-inspired molecules that have been used to develop diagnostics and antivirals for SARS-CoV-2.

Brief biography: Richard J. Payne received his PhD at the University of Cambridge (Gates Scholar) and following this was a Lindemann Postdoctoral Fellow at the Scripps Research Institute. In 2008, he was recruited to the University of Sydney as a Lecturer within the School of Chemistry. Since 2015 has held the position as Professor of Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology and since 2020 has been an NHMRC Investigator (Leadership) and Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Innovations in Peptide and Protein Science. Prof. Payne’s research focuses on the development of new methods to access complex biomolecules with a view to addressing important problems in biology and medicine.

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